We just did a presentation as part of a deal to get a discounted hotel stay. My first recommendation would be to bring a sweater or jacket as we found the air conditioning was pretty powerful. If you are in the U.S., check relevant state laws concerning timeshare sales as well as prohibited sales practices. Check prices on Timeshare User Group, Sell My Timeshare Now, and even Hotwire for rental prices on equivalent accommodations. Have printouts of all the above materials with you.
There is a post on this website about “How to Survive a Timeshare Presentation” – it has good advice as well. Be fairly boring. Remember that these guys are going to talk FAST when they talk numbers. They will make big projections as to what your future vacation spending will be. If you have school age children, remember that for better or worse, they grow up and then you are not limited by school year schedules (which reduces your vacation costs).
We used Priceline for our recent vacation (other than the deal we got that required the timeshare presentation) and saw that we averaged slightly more than $50 a night (including taxes and fees) for our accommodations. Give them numbers like that when they ask what you spend, and you will totally pop their sales pitch. Otherwise, do NOT give them too much personal information; they will use it against you.
Most importantly, keep in writing the conditions of the presentation. When time is up, TIME IS UP. Do not be afraid to walk out on them. Check your credit card statement for anomalous charges and be prepared to contest them.
We were lucky that the 120 minute presentation was really 120 minutes. I was ready to threaten them with state law (in this case, Wisconsin) concerning illegal practices in case they dragged things out. The timeshare company may have sensed that I was a bit more educated and savvy and decided to cut their losses in my case. My sixth-grader had hours of fun afterwards dissecting what was wrong with the things the salesmen said and did.
Timeshares may well be good for some people, but I think that they do not fit my lifestyle. Given the amount of money (like buying a car), don’t you want to be able to compare features of different competitors? Compare new versus used? See if it is better to check a real estate website’s prices, buy a condo outright and rent it when you are not using it (and using the cash for your future vacations)? Heck, people spend more time comparing cell phone plans! Why should timeshares (or general vacation planning) be any different?
Good luck to everyone, and let us know how it goes!